Monday, July 13, 2015

FROM THE HOLY FATHER'S LIPS VIA THE NATIONAL CHISMATIC REPORTER (NCR)

iPost U dIcuss:
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PARAGUAY

Before arriving in the United States in September, Pope Francis said, he will study American criticisms of his critiques of the global economy and finance.
"I have heard that some criticisms were made in the United States -- I've heard that -- but I have not read them and have not had time to study them well," the pope told reporters traveling with him from Paraguay back to Rome July 12.
"If I have not dialogued with the person who made the criticism," he said, "I don't have the right" to comment on what the person is saying.
Pope Francis said his assertion in Bolivia July 9 that "this economy kills" is something he believes and has explained in his exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel" and more recently in his encyclical on the environment.
In the Bolivia speech to grassroots activists, many of whom work with desperately poor people, the pope described the predominant global economic system as having "the mentality of profit at any price with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature."
Laudato-Si_web.jpg Check out A Readers' Guide to Laudato Si', a free resource from NCR.
Asked if he planned to make similar comments in the United States despite the negative reaction his comments have drawn from some U.S. pundits, politicians and economists, Pope Francis said that now that his trip to South America has concluded, he must begin "studying" for his September trip to Cuba and the United States; the preparation, he said, will include careful reading of criticisms of his remarks about economic life.
Spending almost an hour answering questions from journalists who traveled with him July 5-12 to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, Pope Francis also declared that he had not tried coca leaves -- a traditional remedy -- to deal with the high altitude in Bolivia, and he admitted that being asked to pose for selfies makes him feel "like a great-grandfather -- it's such a different culture."
The pope's trip to Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27 was mentioned frequently in questions during the onboard news conference. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro publicly thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican last December for helping them reach an agreement to begin normalizing relations.
Pope Francis insisted his role was not "mediation." In January 2014, he said, he was asked if there was some way he could help. "To tell you the truth, I spent three months praying about it, thinking what can I do with these two after 50 years like this." He decided to send a cardinal -- whom he did not name -- to speak to both leaders.
"I didn't hear any more," he said.
"Months went by" and then one day, out of the blue, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, told him representatives of the two countries would be having their second meeting at the Vatican the next day, he said.
The new Cuba-U.S. relationship was the result of "the good will of both countries. It's their merit. We did almost nothing," the pope said.
Asked why he talks so much about the rich and the poor and so rarely about middle-class people who work and pay taxes, Pope Francis thanked the journalist for pointing out his omission and said, "I do need to delve further into this magisterium."
However, he said he speaks about the poor so often "because they are at the heart of the Gospel. And, I always speak from the Gospel on poverty -- it's not that it's sociological."
Pope Francis was asked about his reaction to the crucifix on top of a hammer and sickle -- the communist symbol -- that Bolivian President Evo Morales gave him July 8. The crucifix was designed by Jesuit Fr. Luis Espinal, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Bolivia in 1980.
The pope said the crucifix surprised him. "I hadn't known that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and a poet, too. I just learned that these past few days," he said.
Pope Francis said that he did know, however, that Espinal was among the Latin American theologians in the late 1970s who found Marxist political, social and economic analysis helpful for understanding their countries and their people's struggles and that the Jesuit also used Marxist theories in his theology. It was four years after the Jesuit's murder that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said plainly that Marxist theory had no place in a Catholic theology, the pope pointed out.
Espinal, he said, "was a special man with a great deal of geniality."
The crucifix, the pope said, obviously fits into the category of "protest art," which some people may find offensive, although he said he did not.
"I'm talking it home with me," Pope Francis said.
In addition to the crucifix, Morales had given the pope two honors, one of which was making him part of the Order of Father Espinal, a designation that comes with a medal bearing a copy of the hammer-and-sickle crucifix.
Pope Francis said he's never accepted such honors; "it's just not for me," he said. But Morales had given them to the pope with "such goodwill" and such obvious pleasure at doing something he thought would please the pope that the pope said he could not refuse.
"I prayed about this," the pope told reporters. He said he did not want to offend Morales and he did not want the medals to end up in a Vatican museums storeroom. So he placed them at the feet of a statue of Mary and asked that they be transferred to the national shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana.
Pope Francis also was asked about his request in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that people pray for the October Synod of Bishops on the family "so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it -- by making it part of his 'hour' -- into a miracle."
The pope told reporters, "I wasn't thinking of any point in particular," but rather the whole range of problems afflicting families around the world and the need for God's help for families.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

“Protest Art” & “He didn’t want to offend”. This is exactly what I expected from Pope Francis. All the more reason, he needs to receive the Confederate Crucifix when he arrives in the USA and then we’ll see how open minded he is. I don’t think I hate Pope Francis, but I do often hate what he says and does and I would be very happy to see him resign his position immediately. His remarks about Marxism are disgusting and unacceptable to me, first as a Catholic, and then as a person who has had family jailed and murdered by the types of “good Marxists” that the pope knows.

His comments during another illuminating plane interview reinforce the idea to me that this man needs to be aggressively protested in Sept and many of his ideas on fantasy climate change and asinine economics need to be ridiculed and mocked. I’m sorry that I haven’t written him a letter on his two great manifestos about Economics and Climate change but now he’s inspired me. Lesson one for Pope Francis – Trickle-down economics only exists in the heads of slimy democrat politicians and the bitter and envious people attempting to get something from the gov’t for nothing. If he can cite one textbook instructing Trickle-down I’ll give me the Capitalist Cross award. That one he certainly throws into the trash and doesn’t send it to a cathedral for historical preservation.

BTW: He may not have noticed that many of the poor are often times sloppy hogs that have no sense of responsibility. I grew up poor but my immigrant parents took care of their home and made sure my clothes were clean; with never a dime of gov’t assistance. Two weeks ago on the day of mother’s funeral I walked past the home that I grew up in and “the poor” who live there have enough money for a satellite dish and three nice SUVs but the yard is in shambles and the dresser and mattress on the front porch make such a wonderful contribution to the exterior décor of the house.

Has our Pope ever said one word about the poor’s obligation to work and to be responsible or is living like a filthy hog just something that we all need to observe and cry about as being some capitalist oppressor’s fault for happening? Lesson two: If you want to see poverty that includes starvation then visit countries ruled by “good Marxists”.

Pope Francis doesn’t get nearly enough “bashing” on this website. Whatever he gets he deserves and then some. Whenever I say prayers that call for praying for the Pope’s intentions, I never do. Instead I pray that this Pope and all bishops like him are compelled to teach the true faith. I can see at this point my prayers remain unanswered.

Mike

JusadBellum said...

1) The current global financial and economic system is not classic capitalism at all but a combination of oligarchic crony-capitalism (fascism) and socialism. So the Pope's critique of the greed and de-humanizing effects of the current reality is no objective slam against anything conservative or right-wing insofar as the conservative right wing doesn't run the global economy! So the blunder is in thinking the commies and Fabian progressive socialists who run the world are somehow innocent waifs and not the very fat cat oligarchs polluting the planet and ruling over vast swaths of poverty.

2) Capitalism is an economic system. Socialism/progressivism/communism are governmental systems which can incorporate any number of various economic systems..... Currently China (Communist) runs a quasi-capitalist economy....so does the USA (ANYTIME you have heavy regulatory infrastructure over an industry it's no longer accurate to call it "the free market"). Thus with respect to poverty and pollution, to the degree private property and personal human rights have no traction in a given nation, there won't be much checks and balances against the systematic exploitation of environment or human population.

If big businesses are bad when they abuse their power and influence then how can an all powerful, all encompassing regulatory central government be less bad?

The challenge for the Pope and the rest of us is how to persuade oligarchs and ideologues to cease being greedy and lustful secular hedons on behalf of the rights of the poor and the good of the planet when their ideology and political fortunes depend on them exploiting the planet and population for their own selfish ends.

They're only too happy to co-op Pope Francis to further their own totalitarian ends.

Anonymous said...

What is "chismatic"?

Anonymous said...

¡Viva Papa Francisco!

¡Viva Che Gueverra!

¡Viva La Iglesia Nueva!

¡Viva La Iglesia de los pobres, por los pobres!

¡Viva La Revolucion!





NOT!

rcg said...

I am having a real problem not channelling Angry Augustinian.

Anonymous 2 said...

From the “revolutionary” CCC:

2423 The Church’s social teaching proposes principles for reflection; it provides criteria for judgment; it gives guidelines for action:

Any system in which social relationships are determined entirely by economic factors is contrary to the nature of the human person and his acts.

2424 A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order. A system that “subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production” is contrary to human dignity. Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.” Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.

2426 The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man.

2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.” Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive.


Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous Mike:

I am sorry to hear about your mother. You will be in my prayers.

Angry Augustinian said...

Arbeit Macht Frei!

Mark Thomas said...

I don't find anything contrary to the Faith in the economic-related statements that His Holiness delivered during his just-concluded Apostolic visit to South American. Pope Francis upheld and promoted the Church's Social Teaching.

I noted the following here last month: Just last year, Rorate Caeli blog praised Pope Francis' Social Teaching as "Traditional".

The following is from Rorate Caeli blog, June 3, 2014 A.D., during which New Catholic praised Pope Francis as a Traditional Catholic Pope in regard to the Church's Social Teaching:

Posted by New Catholic at 6/03/2014 08:45:00 PM

"I would like to start quoting Michael Sean Winters’s recent article in NCR:

"Last week, the Holy Father addressed leaders of United Nations who called on him in Rome. He gave a short talk, which included these words calling for ‘the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.’

"Here comes Father Zuhlsdorf, who runs a popular conservative blog. ‘I wonder how many people are still listening to him seriously on this issue,’ opines Reverend Father.

"Not content to take a swipe at the Pope, he goes after a few cardinals, adding, ‘I suspect other people might have the same reaction that I have when hearing/reading this stuff. It comes across as naive, out of step with history. Has any nation successfully dealt with poverty through redistribution? I don't think so. Moreover, who would supervise this process of global redistribution? Angels? EU bureaucrats? The UN? Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga? Card. Kasper?’.”

Rorate Caeli continued with New Catholic's commentary...

"Once again, the Traditional Catholic voice went unheeded.

"Very few indeed have been making the case, a case that is true, that the positions stated by Pope Francis on economic and social matters are much closer to the Traditional Catholic position on the economy and the State than not.

"Indeed, it can be said unhesitatingly that this is one area in which the Pope will find mostly allies in Traditional Catholics.

"They know by heart, also as victims of injustice (including within the Church), that the doctrine of the Church regarding people, society and economic relations, and individuals faced with government, is one which privileges "justice" as its foundational aspect."

"We would like to reinforce what we posted just a few days ago: social concerns, in theory and in practice, cannot be left by Traditionalists as an unoccupied field to the ecclesiastical "leftwing", to the unbelieving liberals.

"By criticizing the current Pope when he indeed defends positions kept by his predecessors on Social Doctrine (admittedly, Pope Francis often fills such defense with unexpected idiosyncrasies, but not essential deviations), "Conservatives" bring themselves to an untenable position.

"The traditional Catholic Social Doctrine is ours, it is wholly traditional, and it is our responsibility to defend it, to put it into practice in our communities (including with specific actions for the benefit of the most derelict in society), and also to defend His Holiness in those cases in which he makes its defense in the current economic environment."

Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Anon 2
Thank you for your condolences and prayers. My mother was a devout lady and would be appalled by my lack of respect for the pope. On the other hand my father was a wonderful Catholic in mind and soul but didn't possess the same soft Catholic heart that my mother had. I am my father's son.

#2425 is the only area where the CCC is getting a little off track. Communism and socialism are merely corrupt political distortions of Economics. They are not legitimate forms of economic structure and shouldn't be included in an honest discussion or comparison. Also, Capitalism is an invented word by Karl Marx used to create a negative connotation of people who trust individuals over governments. If we want to talk about the sins of pride, greed and envy and the role they play in ruining souls in the private economy then you’ll get plenty of support from me.

What do you think the chances are that Francis amends the CCC to include his thoughtful analysis of capitalism as devil's dung? He's really establishing himself as quite a political and economic philosopher.

Mike

Anonymous said...

After reading the Catholic bloggers reaction to the popes trip to Bolivia and South America, along with the same reaction to his encyclical, I am stunned at some of the vile commentary. I admit I have never really understood South America, and that includes the awkward crucifix; but the popes explanation makes does make sense to me. Its diplomatic, and Christian, and insightful. It makes much more sense that some of the spittle-flecked nutty rants I have read.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous Mike:

“Trickle-down economics only exists in the heads of slimy democrat politicians and the bitter and envious people attempting to get something from the gov’t for nothing.”

Why isn’t this just a semantic argument about terminology that distracts from a substantive issue that remains controversial whatever it is called?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics

The Greek said...

I am having a real problem not channelling Angry Augustinian.

Shhhh, rcg—we don't say that name.

rcg said...

#2426 seems to explain exactly why capitalism should be preferred over all other economic systems: it allows the person to utilize God's gifts in the best manner. Collective economies have limited alternatives that are not limited to the best, or even satisfactory alternatives. In a free market everyone is allowed to make the right choice. Not everyone does. In the spiritual realm, where the stakes are arguably higher, we agree that the individual must be allowed to chose, or not choose, the Truth. We understand the need to encourage the person to make the right choice and the responsibility to point out right and wrong, but we acknowledge that freedom to choose, even when that choice can lead others astray. We gave up conversion by force spiritually and should do the same economically for the spiritual benefits.

Anonymous said...

rcg: Doesn't seem the pontiff cares to dig that deep to consider your point. I'm afraid he may be too blinded by hatred for a field of study that he has never taken time think about or how God gave us all a free will to be used in all facets of our lives.

Anon 2: I agree with you. I'm not the one who is pope and uses the political charged terminology to criticize something that I either don't understand or that I'm so full of hatred for "the rich" that I can't see straight. I'd expect more from the leader of the one true faith. He's obviously not up to the job. BTW: If it is hard for the rich to enter heaven then why not show more compassion for them? They are the ones most in need of the physician. Seems like he hates the greedy sinner but has enormous patience for the lazy and lusty ones. The problem with his logic in blaming what he calls capitalism is that using his reasoning he's more likely to blame the hammer used to smash a man's head then the woman who used it.

Mike

Anonymous said...

Those who can't see anything wrong with this gift to the Pope, or anything against his acceptance of it, should think back a few short years to the Pontificate of St John Paul II The Great. Can anyone imagine St John Paul being gifted a hammer & sickle crucifix and if they did what he might have done with it once he had removed the figure of Christ from it? That would have made an even better picture than this one at the time:

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/theo/cardenal.jpg

Even better on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK6NeXww-ts

Jan

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

My point about distracting labels is that we should not get caught up on whether someone should or should not have used t term like “trickle-down economics.” We should grapple with the underlying substantive issues and realities the label is attempting to capture.

Regarding those issues and realities, I think the following statement quoted by Mark Thomas hits the nail on the head: "We would like to reinforce what we posted just a few days ago: social concerns, in theory and in practice, cannot be left by Traditionalists as an unoccupied field to the ecclesiastical ‘leftwing’, to the unbelieving liberals.”

Similarly, I see nothing in the Pope’s remarks that is inconsistent with the views of older conservatives such as Russell Kirk or Sir James Goldsmith (but who remembers them nowadays?), beginning with the notion that the economy should serve people not the other way around. This is not a condemnation of capitalism but of one perversion of capitalism.

As for “the dung of the devil”: Isn’t the Pope quoting from St. Basil, and isn’t it quite consistent with the orthodox view that the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil?

For those who want to read the transcript of the Pope’s speech, here it is:

http://time.com/3952885/pope-francis-bolivia-poverty-speech-transcript/



Anonymous said...

As a reader of Rorate Caeli, I am sure Mark and Anonymous Anon 2 will be interested in Rorate's comments about the Pope's encyclical being "an epochal break from Catholic tradition, but also for its passages about the theological intentions behind the encyclical". Having read the Pope's speech that Anonymous Anon 2 referred to I think it would gladden the heart of any Communist:

" The New Yorker published last week a long opinion piece (A Radical Vatican?) by Naomi Klein, a radical eco-feminist (and abortion supporter who has publicly disparaged pro-lifers) who was specifically invited by the Vatican to be one of the four speakers at a major press conference held on July 1 in the Aula Giovanni Paolo II, organized by the Holy See Press Office and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The press conference's goal was to introduce the international conference “People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course” held in the Augustinianum on July 2-3. The conference was co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace along with CIDSE, an international alliance of 17 Catholic Development Organisations; predictably it focused to a great extent on Laudato Si. Klein also served as a panelist during the conference at the Augustinianum.


"A Radical Vatican?" is noteworthy not only as an example of how secular figures that the Vatican itself considers as allies are treating the encyclical as an epochal break from Catholic tradition, but also for its passages about the theological intentions behind the encyclical. (See below; emphases ours.) Here we find Naomi Klein quoting Fr. Seán McDonagh, who is part of the "administrative team" of the ultra-liberal and theologically dissident "Association of Catholic Priests" (ACP) in Ireland -- and was involved in drafting the encyclical. McDonagh's role in drafting Laudato Si is trumpeted not just by the ACP's website (which calls him "one of the chief advisors to the Vatican in the composition of the encylical") but by his own congregation (the Columbans -- see this) and by Vatican Radio, which not only acknowledges that he was one of the theologians consulted for the encyclical, but also chose to interview him about its importance. (Keep in mind that it is exceedingly rare for the actual drafters or advisors for an Encyclical to be ever publicly identified by official Church sources.)"

Jan

George said...


Anonymous2

Here is a link which explains things a little better.


did-francis-really-call-capitalism-the-dung-of-the-devil/

As far as what Mark Thomas said...
The history of the Church is replete with the examples of saints, the most Traditional and faithful of Catholics, serving the poor including at great personal sacrifice to themselves. Studies have borne out that conservative Christians, including Catholics donate more time, money, and material goods to charity than other groups.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:
Appears we may not understand each other's arguments on the use of terminology. I believe you were encouraging me forget terminology and focus on the substantive issues of the topic. My point is that I am not the person who originated the use, the Pope was. I think your complaint should be targeted at him. Why does he get a pass but I don’t? I’m pointing out that I believe that the pope is arguing his position in a dishonest way that is often used by politicians not by men who should have better character. His terminology is a clear example of this.

Regarding Mark Thomas’ thought: I believe that traditionalists or in this case free market supporters are not leaving “social concern” to liberals. Liberals love to be always thinking about how they are going to make the world a better place. Traditionalists have confidence in God that we’ve already been given the rules to live by that need to be followed in order to live good and productive lives. It’s not that complicated and we simply make it worse for ourselves when we try and rewrite the rules. Just as we know what is the best method to supply economic justice for all people. It’s not achieved by liberal do-gooders dreaming up the next big gov’t program that will help to create more problems than it will ever solve. Lesson 3 for Francis: Gov't waged a war on poverty and poverty won.

Francis’ speech is clearly connecting what he calls capitalism to be the cause of the evil pursuit of money which is what the dung of the devil is. Allowing a lady to freely start a business is not what turns that woman into a greedy dung worshiper. As rcg pointed out we have a free will and should be free to pursue our professions to the highest level of accomplishment and even to greatness. What we might do to abuse the fame or fortune that comes along with success is not the fault of the freedom.

I’m not sure why it so important for Francis cheerleaders who have little interest in maintaining many of the traditions of the Church to claim that Pope Francis is consistent with the traditions of the Church? What’s the motivation behind that?

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Thank you for the link, which makes the point very clearly that Pope Francis was not condemning capitalism per se. Indeed, how could he in light of the Church’s social teaching?

I don’t question for one moment the charitable inclinations and actions of many conservatives. But such charity is not a complete answer to a flawed system. Isn’t there such a thing as a sinful social structure? Surely we cannot let the Marxists appropriate this notion for themselves:

CCC 408 The consequences of original sin and of all men’s personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John’s expression, “the sin of the world.” This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men’s sins.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Jan:

It is Mark who reads Rorate Caeli. The only Catholic blog -- indeed the only blog -- that I follow is this one, because it is run by the pastor of my parish.

Please re-read the Pope’s speech, and this time with respect to each sentence ask: Would this sentence gladden the heart of a communist? You may be surprised by the result. This said of course there is some overlap between Christianity and Marxism/communism, just as there is some overlap between Marxism/communism and the Hebrew Prophets who seem to have influenced Karl Marx (although some have disputed this influence). This is the connection with social justice. But that is precisely the point behind the comment quoted by Mark. If we want to take the wind out of the sails of communism, don’t we do it best by getting ahead of communism? And isn’t this what Christianity should be doing anyway (see my reply to George about structures of sin)?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anon. 2, I'm not the only one who thinks Pope Francis gave a good Socialist sermon, Pat Buchanan, thinks so too:

By: Pat Buchanan | July 14, 2015
On arrival in La Paz, Pope Francis was presented by Bolivian President Evo Morales with a wooden crucifix carved in the form of a hammer and sickle, the symbol of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Fidel.
Had Pope John Paul II been handed that crucifix, he might have cracked it over Evo's head. For John Paul II had seen up close what communism did—to his country, his church and his people in 45 years of Bolshevik rule.
On his arrival in the Nicaragua of Daniel Ortega in 1983, Pope John Paul castigated a priest-collaborator who dared to serve that Sandinista Marxist regime as culture minister.
And, while in Managua, he warned Catholics they were being threatened by "unacceptable ideological commitments."
Today we have a pope for whom free-market capitalism is the "unacceptable ideological commitment."
As The New York Times reports, Pope Francis does "not just criticize the excesses of capitalism. He compares them to the 'dung of the devil.' He does not simply argue that 'greed for money' is a bad thing. He calls it a 'subtle dictatorship that condemns and enslaves.'"
In South America, Pope Francis "made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism—even as he called for a global movement against a 'new colonialism' rooted in an inequitable economic order."
"The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution."
Now the church has a long tradition of criticizing capitalism, dating back to the encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891.
In American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America, author Russ Shaw deals with the causes and consequences of what some Catholics contend was a fatal embrace of a heretical "Americanism" in the 19th century.

CONTINUED

Anonymous said...

This pope goes beyond that. His words about capitalism echo what Cold War Catholics said of communism, that it is a tree poisoned at the root that can yield only bad fruit, and, as the Gospel teaches, ought to be cut down and cast into the fire.
What is wrong with the pope's neo-socialist sermonizing?

While capitalism does indeed generate inequalities, freedom, too, produces inequality. For all men and all women are unequal in abilities, energy and opportunities. In a free society, some inevitably succeed, others fail.

For as the Biblical parable teaches, some are given 10 talents, others two, and God judges us on how well we use the talents we were given. The only way to achieve absolute equality is absolute tyranny, the remorseless redistribution of wealth by an all-powerful regime.

The pontiff says the capitalist "idolatry of money" creates "the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose." But it is egalitarianism that has proven to be the road to dictatorship, dictatorships run by egalitarians in the name of the "proletariat."

Free enterprise has brought more millions out of poverty, enabled more billions of people to live longer, freer, healthier and happier lives, and produced more widespread prosperity than any other economic system.

What is the superior system the pope believes we should adopt?
What has Argentina produced but an economically failed state, incompetent socialist rulers, and an occasional Peronista in sunglasses and shiny boots? Is Latin America a fine model?

The pope used the phrase "dung of the devil." Is that not a good description of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital? And is not satanic the precise word to describe the scores of millions of dead that 70 years of Marxist-socialist ideology produced?

The 100 million people of Eastern Europe, the 300 million of the late Soviet Union, the 1.2 billion people in China—are they not better off the further they have moved away from Marxism, and the closer they have moved toward free-market capitalism?
As for the pope's apology for the sins of Spanish Catholicism in Latin America, why does he not speak up for the culture Catholicism helped to create, the eradication of paganism, and the termination of such practices as human sacrifice among the indigenous peoples?

But, then, we Americans are no strangers to "apology tours."

The pope is calling for a "social revolution." But what country, among the 190-plus in the U.N., comes closest to the utopia the pope has in mind? Or does his utopia exist only in the mind?

The pope is saintly man. But he has no special understanding of economic systems or of climate change. He is the Vicar of Christ, of the Savior sent by the Father to teach us what we must believe and how we must live to attain eternal life.
Christ did not come among us to end colonialism, or redistribute wealth, or start a social revolution against the empire of the Caesars. As he told Pontius Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world."

Pope Francis is the infallible custodian of that truths Christ taught. Is that not sufficient, Your Holiness? Why not leave the socialist sermons to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren?

Jan

Anonymous said...

Anon Jan,

You see the pope doesn't let the facts get in his way, because he either does know them or he cares not to study them. If you want all people to have access to clean water, indoor plumbing, and maybe even a little AC on 90 degree days then all we need to do is look at the data. Per capita GDP is readily available, but Francis never uses any hard facts to support one lousy word he says. To paraphrase every Georgian's favorite president; Pope Francis has in inordinate fear of greedy capitalists. You might say he sees one behind every bush. I've always loved Pat Buchanan. A great Catholic and defender of truth. We could use some of that in the Vatican.

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Jan and Anon Mike:

I am delighted that you like Pat Buchanan. You will doubtless agree with him, then, and with Pope St. John Paul II the Great, that the invasion of Iraq was wrong and stupid.

But I digress. Pat Buchanan’s views about Pope Francis’s speech are perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, the good Mr. Buchanan has failed to attend to context and thus has missed the point. First, yes, John Paul II may have had a very different reaction to the hammer and sickle crucifix. But John Paul II was a creature of his experience, just as Francis is a creature of his own experience in Latin America. Second, and related, the enemy in the days of John Paul II was communism. Thankfully, that evil system proved to be hollow and rotten and so it failed (despite some holdouts and despite some Russian nationalist/imperialist attempts to re-create the old Soviet Union/Empire), in no small part due to the efforts of John Paul himself. Today, the enemy, for want of a better term, is different. It is, as Buchanan himself acknowledges, the “excesses” of free market capitalism.

Pope Francis, then, is not engaged in neo-socialist sermonizing (that is a dismissive label that distracts and substitutes for thinking). He is engaged in Christian sermonizing, as was St. Basil. I do not question that free market capitalism is the best system for producing wealth and improving the material conditions of human beings. However, it does not get a free pass and I, for one, hope that the excesses of free market capitalism will be reined in (following the guidance in the CCC), perhaps in no small part due to the efforts of Francis himself. Let me give you one instance that is symptomatic. I did not know about factory farming until a few years ago. Once I discovered the awful, horrible, cruel truth about that system, it changed my eating habits. Who do you think is being worshiped in the factory farming system – God or Mammon? And this is but one among countless examples that could be given, right here in these United States. And if you tell me that we have to have factory farming because it is “efficient” and results in cheaper food, well, that’s precisely the problem isn’t it? Just how far are we prepared to go in the name of efficiency and consumerism?

Please, please read Russell Kirk and Sir James Goldsmith, or at least about them, before you pile on to attack Pope Francis and condemn him for neo-socialism. You will discover a very different type of free market capitalism than the type we are being served up today. And please read Pope Francis’s speech without political glasses. Here, for example, is one telling passage:

“This rootedness in the barrio, the land, the office, the labor union, this ability to see yourselves in the faces of others, this daily proximity to their share of troubles and their little acts of heroism: this is what enables you to practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people… Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities… of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world. Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities… of names and faces which fill our hearts.”

That is exactly right. Christians do not love concepts or ideas, whether they are called communism or free market capitalism; we are called to love people with real faces and real names. And that is not just in works of charity but in evaluating social structures and economic systems.



John Nolan said...

Jorge Bergoglio - was he a particularly good bishop in his native Argentina? I neither know nor care.

What are his personal views on Peronist economics, world capitalism or climate change? I couldn't care less.

Does he think 'Las Malvinas' should belong to Argentina? It's his own point of view and as an Argentine he has no less right to be a patriot than JP II was. But the Falklands will remain British.

Does he disagree with Benedict XVI on the future direction of the liturgy? Irrelevant. SP will not be overturned, the Roman Rite was never abrogated, and the future is assured. He can't turn back the clock even if he wanted to.

Does he want to change Church teaching on moral issues? Regarding sodomy and adultery there are no indications that he is inclined to do so, and even if he were he hasn't the competence to do so. No pope has.

Will there be any major reform in his pontificate? Doubtful. The Curia has little confidence in him and talk of reform has been stalled. All eyes are on a Synod which didn't need two years to produce a document which will be anodyne and consensual and has no juridical force.

Is he wildly popular? He gets far less media coverage than JP II did in his earlier years when the Cold War was at it its height and the pope was seen as a major player. Visit to Bolivia - most people couldn't even place it on a map.

Does he have my allegiance? Of course he does. He is the Pope. I pray for him at every Mass and mean it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:
I agreed with Pat on the Iraq war at the time it started, but at this point I think the world must be prepared to deal with the hate filled fanatics that are determined to kill everything and anything.

Maybe Pat would agree with this, I don’t know and it doesn’t change how I feel about him because his thoughts are usually clear and well-reasoned just as reflected in this article. If you’re going to criticize his thoughts you should try to be a little more specific because you really don’t offer any examples of where he is wrong. Also, you might be surprised to know that Pat is probably more consistent with traditional Catholic teaching on economics. That may be what leads him to be mostly wrong on his ideas about free trade and his desire to retain manufacturing jobs in this country at all costs.

I can have an honest disagreement with Pat Buchanan on this topic because he doesn’t know good Marxists and he doesn’t claim there are people who have deified the market. These are inflammatory remarks that convince me that I don’t want nor need to hear more from the person who states that kind of garbage.

The excerpt that you pasted into your comment is nothing special. It could be stated by any religious person just as the Joyful Gospel manifesto was mostly water with his most direct language reserved for attacking people who believe the best way to correct injustice in an economy is through market forces and not by political demagogues. Pat has it exactly right. Thieves and scoundrels lurk around everywhere but in the USSR they ran the government which ran the economy. At least in a market economy we try to jail the thieves.

Maybe you can tell me exactly which “reforms” Morales implemented in Bolivia that the pope so wisely congratulated him for? Do you know? Maybe he nationalized an industry to help it run more efficiently? I fully expect Francis to admire that kind of policy.

I’ve read enough of his speech to understand where he is coming from. Editing his comments to show that he is man full of love is not an effective way to package the messenger as a responsible and rational thinker. I’ve heard enough from him and know exactly who he is. I saw guys like him all through the 80s and 90s in the USCCB. He’s kind of an anachronism (I hope) and he’s likely missing Bernardine and Hunthausen very much.

Mike

Anonymous said...

John Nolan,

I care if my pope has some integrity. We all should. You see no indications that he wants to change teachings on sodomy and adultery? I'm not sure how anyone can believe that. Whether he's successful is another matter.

If he is as inconsequential as you claim he is then why bother to pray for him? My cat has my allegiance but I don't think he needs my prayers so I don't pray for him. As you describe the pope he sounds little more important than my tuxedo boy named Bandit, aka Agent 1.

I believe the Latin Mass is beautiful but the practicing of the true faith is not determined simply by whether you have a Latin liturgy.

Will God protect the Church in the long run - yes. In the meantime I prefer not have bishops appointed again that given the chance will finish the job and cause the entire Church to file BK.

Mike

Lefebvrian said...

Jolly good post, John Nolan. I couldn't agree more.

What the pope gets up to on a day to day basis should have no impact on our lives. We have our duty of state to see to and our salvation to sort out.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

I disagree that Pat Buchanan’s thoughts are well reasoned in this article. But all that is actually rather beside the point. The error is in being too rationalistic about what Pope Francis writes or says, here and elsewhere. My sense is that he is speaking more to the heart than to the head and he is trying to encourage people to develop a certain type of sensibility–call it a more spiritual way of perceiving, feeling, and being in the world (cf being in the world and yet not of it). Put another way: try reading him as poetry rather than prose.

You find talk of deifying the market “garbage.” But consider two points.

First, what about the unthinking, and I mean unthinking, adoption of the concept “free market.” There is no such thing because no market is truly free; there are always barriers and impediments of various kinds (except possibly in a very local market). And yet what power that word “free” has! Freedom is good isn’t it (except for sexual freedom of course)? No, not necessarily – what does one mean by freedom (freedom from or freedom to)? How does freedom differ from license? Where does responsible exercise and self-restraint fit in? And so on. As far as international trade is concerned, the concept of “free trade” is trotted out as if it is supposed to end all discussion. This is where Pat Buchanan’s “conservative” instincts, and Sir James Goldsmith’s, and Russell Kirk’s, are so insightful. Check out Goldsmith and Kirk and we can talk further. Until you do, there is not much point in discussing it because you cannot understand where I am coming from. Let’s just say this: there was a way to honor the notion of free trade and help third world countries to develop without “colonizing” their cultures or shipping so many U.S. manufacturing and service sector jobs overseas (in other words while enabling developing countries’ cultures to “conserve” much of their way of life and enabling the United States to “conserve” jobs and its own way of life). Yet those who advocated this were silenced. And by whom? By the dictatorship of money! That’s probably why most people never even heard those ideas.

Second, this from Pope Benedict: “This appeal to shun idols, dear brothers and sisters, is also pertinent today. Has not our modern world created its own idols? Has it not imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity, by diverting man from his true end, from the joy of living eternally with God? . . .Saint Paul explains to the Colossians that insatiable greed is a form of idolatry (cf. 3:5), and he reminds his disciple Timothy that love of money is the root of all evil. By yielding to it, he explains, “some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim 6:10). Have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even for knowledge, diverted man from his true Destiny, from the truth about himself? . . . .

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. Compare Pope Benedict above with Pope Francis in the speech in Bolivia:

“An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”



Anonymous said...

Lefebvrian, I disagree that we should not be concerned with what the Pope gets up to. Sure, ultimately it is not going to affect those who have faith and believe in God but when a Pope implies things, such as all religions are the same, then that is serious and it can lead people to perdition. I don't think Cardinal Burke or Bishop Athanasius Schneider would agree with you either. They are busily writing books and travelling the world shoring up Catholic teaching and, yes, I believe there is a great need and it is our duty to pray for the Pope, especially that he be guided by the Holy Spirit rather than Kasper, most of the German bishops and their ilk.

Jan

Lefebvrian said...

Jan, I didn't say we shouldn't be concerned, I said it shouldn't impact our lives. Most Catholics throughout history, at any given time, likely had no idea what the pope was saying or doing. Sometimes they probably had no idea who the pope even was. Since we do know these things, we are right to be concerned, and we should pray for his conversion. But we shouldn't let anything his says or does take us off course.

Anonymous 2 said...

PP.S. Sorry, I omitted to give the source for the Pope Benedict quote on idols. It was at an outdoor papal Mass in Paris on September 13, 2008.

George said...

No pope has ever erred in matters of faith and morals. It is an article of our faith that he cannot do so. Why pray for the Holy Father then?
There is so much that the pope says and does that while not infallible, is still very important. Whoever occupies the Chair of Peter is who we have, whatever his faults. We must appeal to the Mercy of God and that His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, and so we must pray that both the Holy Father, and we ourselves, conform to God's Will in all our actions. We must also pray that whatever bad effects
there are arising from our sinful actions, especially those effects that are outside and beyond ourselves, are mitigated, and that whatever good we do will outweigh and overcome the effects of the bad.

Lefebvrian said...

George, it is not an article of our faith that no pope has ever erred in matters of faith and morals. That cannot be an article of our faith since it is manifestly false -- John XXII and Honorius come immediately to mind. The latter was posthumously condemned as a heretic by a Church council, and the former was nearly deposed for being a heretic, but he died before being deposed.

It is an article of our faith that no pope can propose for the universal Church's belief some error with regard to faith and morals.

We should pray for every pope and for the intentions of the Holy Father, which are are: "the exaltation of the Church, the propagation of the Faith, the extirpation of heresy, the conversion of sinners, concord between Christian princes, and the further welfare of the Christian people.”

In our current situation, we should pray that the pope understands and takes seriously those intentions and works toward their completion in the world today.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous Mike:

I thought it might be helpful to you and other readers to repeat some information about Russell Kirk that I posted probably two years ago now. It will give you a much better idea how someone can adopt apparently “liberal” positions on conservative premises. I will post separately about Sir James Goldsmith. I hope that people will have sufficient courage and integrity to entertain Kirk and Goldsmith’s views seriously and, having done so, to ease up on their criticism of Pope Francis for believing and saying much the same:

In his Prospects for Conservatives (1989) (at pages 260-61) Kirk states:

“Conservative people in politics need to steer clear of the Scylla of abstraction and the Charybdis of opportunism. So it is that folk of conservative inclination ought to decline the embraces of such categories of American political zealots and charlatans as I list below:

Those who demand that the National Parks be sold to private developers.
Those who declare that ‘the test of the market’ is the whole of political economy and of morals.
Those who fancy that foreign policy can be conducted with religious zeal on a basis of absolute rights and absolute wrongs. . . .
Those who assure the public that great corporations can do no wrong. . . .”

So much for the “liberal ideas” regarding “corporate greed” as well as a hubristic and simplistic foreign policy! Moreover, when speaking about our relation with other countries and cultures, in the same book Kirk states (at pages 173-74):

“We Americans ought to cease to foment ‘a revolution of rising expectations’ in countries where folk have not forgotten the wisdom of their ancestors; we ought not to demand that the Javanese villager or the Sudanese peasant somehow adapt themselves and their economy to the American standard of living and the American political pattern. We ought not to swagger among the nations, bribing or bullying them to a sterile conformity with our particular pleasures. And the worst manifestation of American hubris, I find, has been our determination that all peoples ought to_think_ as American do. . . . [Regarding the “re-education” of Germany and Japan after the War] What we were asserting, in effect, was our right to remake the world in our own image. ‘Surrender to us, and we will annihilate your personality, and mould you afresh upon our perfect model.’ The wants of other nations are not monopolized by American techniques.”

Kirk then goes on to talk about his “amazement at the presumption of those Americans who are intolerably smug in their creed of superiority to all other ages and peoples.” And in his book “The Politics of Prudence” (1993) Kirk states (at page 221):

“[A] soundly conservative foreign policy, in the age which is dawning, should be neither ‘interventionist’ nor ‘isolationist’: it should be prudent. Its object should not be to secure the triumph everywhere of America’s name and manners, under the slogan of ‘democratic capitalism’, but instead the preservation of the true national interest, and acceptance of a diversity of economic and political institutions throughout the world. Soviet hegemony ought not to be succeeded by American hegemony. Our prospects in the world of the twenty-first century are bright – supposing we American do not swagger about the globe, proclaiming our omniscience and our omnipotence.”

So much, then, for the “liberal ideas” regarding “cultural diversity” and “colonization”! Of course, like Kirk, I celebrate the achievements of Western Civilization (although I also try not to view them through rose colored glasses as if we were perfect and without fault).

(continued)

Anonymous 2 said...

Now, as regards conservation of resources and protection and the environment, Kirk states in “Prospects for Conservatives” (at page 173):

“And, turning away from the furious depletion of natural resources, we ought to employ our techniques of efficiency in the interest of posterity, voluntarily conserving our land and our minerals and our forests and our water and our old towns and our countryside for the future partners in our contract of eternal society.”

So much, yet again, for the “liberal ideas” of “climate change” and “Creation care”!

I do not know what Kirk thought about the “liberal idea” of gun control but I cannot imagine that, as a true conservative, he would have supported the idea of limitless access to firearms and ammunition. I imagine that, as with everything else, he would have advocated prudence in gun policy.

Those who uncritically support the Republican Party today and yet want to call themselves conservatives would do well to remember Kirk’s admonition that “conservative views are not identical with the measures of the Republican party” (The Politics of Prudence at page 222). Thus traditional conservatives (as opposed to today’s “radical” ersatz-conservatives) and liberals may sometimes agree on similar positions but based on different premises.

Anonymous 2 said...

Regarding Sir James Goldsmith, I recommend two resources:

(1) The Sir James Goldsmith website. His positions on so-called “free trade,” factory farming, the environment and climate change are quite remarkable, being held and advocated as they were by an arch-conservative corporate raider who was the inspiration for Sir Lawrence Wildman, Gordon Gekko’s rival and antagonist in the movie “Wall Street.” Click on the tabs for Thinker and Environmentalist. In the former category: click on Politics and Economics and then on Free Trade, Agriculture and Food.

http://www.sirjamesgoldsmith.com/environmentalist/

(2) A book review of Goldsmith’s book “The Trap.”

http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0504/article_480.shtml

Of course, there is no real substitute for reading the book itself and its sequel answer to critics “The Response.”

Anyway, I hope all this helps you understand better why I am dismayed at the path not taken – the development of “free and vigorously competitive regional markets” whose members are at a similar stage of economic development with stimulation of the regional economies by foreign investment – instead of the liberalization of world trade following the creation of the WTO with competition in developed countries from cheaper and generally inferior goods produced in countries such as China and Vietnam. Both paths to development were open but Big Money (Pope Francis’s “dictatorship of money”) decided that more money could be made more quickly by global liberalization as opposed to regional liberalization and the devil take the hindmost.


I hope you can also now understand, after learning about Russell Kirk and Sir James Goldsmith, how I can hold the positions I do, and how Pope Francis can hold the positions he does, not as a leftist liberal but as a traditional conservative.


George said...

Anonymous2:

"Those who demand that the National Parks be sold to private developers."

> Who is demanding? Most of the people I know are conservatives and not one of them has ever called for this. They might have a problem with the Federal government being the majority land owner in some of our Western states -although I've rarely heard even that brought up.

"Those who declare that ‘the test of the market’ is the whole of political economy and of morals."

>Neither I nor any conservative I personally know has this view.

Those who fancy that foreign policy can be conducted with religious zeal on a basis of absolute rights and absolute wrongs. . . .

> I hope you are not one of those who hold that we are no better than say, Iran meddling in Syria and Lebanon or Russia meddling in the Ukraine. When we needed a strong foreign policy which would come to the aid of the Christians being killed and persecuted in the Middle East where was our current President? When people lives and livelihood are at stake, the how and why things have become like they have in that part of the world can be argued about and the books written later.

Those who assure the public that great corporations can do no wrong. . . .”

>It's many of our great corporations that were behind the push to legalize same-sex marriage and who fund the likes of Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research-all things which conservatives oppose.

"We ought not to swagger among the nations, bribing or bullying them to a sterile conformity with our particular pleasures"

>The present administration in Washington has been doing just that by "persuading", using financial incentives, countries whose culture
is different from ours to accept abortion and same-sex marriage.

"Those who uncritically support the Republican Party today and yet want to call themselves conservatives would do well to remember Kirk’s admonition that 'conservative views are not identical with the measures of the Republican party' ".

>How many true conservatives are left even in the Republican party? What is the alternative though? The Democrat party whose members were willing to shut down the government in order to secure funding for the baby parts selling, major abortionist Planned Parenthood.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:
I have an above average level of information about personalities and historical figures in politics and economics but I've never heard of the experts that you are using to convince me that the pope is a mainstream Catholic leader.

What I do know after reading his speech is that he was friendly to a thug wearing a Che Guevara jacket and that he repeatedly talks in vague reference of "the system" that oppresses the campesino and that he encourages "popular movements" to do what he mysteriously doesn't say. He's for Labor, Land and Lodging, exactly how that is achieved I'm not sure as no one is. Maybe he wants land seizures? He leaves Bolivia/So. America in his wake of anti-business, anti-bourgeois rhetoric that can now be interpreted by enemies of Christianity in a way that will be highly beneficial for them.

And most importantly let's not forget the Communist Crucifix. He sees it as a historically significant piece of thought provoking artwork and I see it as a symbol of blasphemy that devilishly connects Christ to genocide. Try to see the pope through the prism he's supplied for you rather then denying that he's a man who likes to associate with unrepentant communist murderers.

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Re selling national parks: I did not know specifics either until I just looked it up, and there it is:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/10/1246005/-GOP-wants-to-SELL-our-National-Parks-not-open-them

Re the “test of the market”: Well, the Pope certainly has got into a lot of trouble for questioning “the excesses” of the free market. If you are not allowed to question the “excesses,” then what does that imply about the degree of commitment to free market forces as the whole of political economy and moral behavior in the economy?

Re religious zeal in foreign policy: It is a fallacy to suggest that just because we are better than another country, then we are beyond reproach and anyone who challenges our conduct must be equating us with the worst actors. And the fact that Obama may have made mistakes does not absolve the previous administration, especially when they were the ones who opened Pandora’s Box in the first place. They should have listened to real conservatives like Kirk and Pope Benedict. The key idea is “prudent” foreign policy.

Re great corporations: Again, it is a fallacy to suggest that just because some corporations might be supporting the kinds of matters you mention, then other corporations are beyond reproach and may not be challenged – for example, those engaged in factory farming practices, etc., etc.

On swaggering among the nations: And yet again, it is a fallacy to suggest that just because the current administration has gone a-swaggering in some ways, then Republican administrations and candidates are beyond reproach and may not be challenged for their own swaggering.

On the alternative: What people like Kirk and Goldsmith advocate. This transcends party affiliation. Which candidate to vote for in any particular race is one question; the principles that should guide all candidates are another question. Kirk is addressing the latter question.

Here’s the thing. I am currently reading Dinesh d’Souza’s “America.” Now, I am only about one quarter of the way through, so I don’t know for sure. But I strongly suspect that if a “liberal” advocated the kinds of positions that Kirk and Goldsmith do, then Dinesh may well suggest they were all part of Saul Alinsky’s nefarious grand game plan to change America and bring about its decline. But no-one can say this of Kirk, the father of modern American conservatism or of Goldsmith, famed or infamous corporate raider.


Anonymous said...

Anon 2:

I'm not sure how you draw your conclusions, but I read George's comments about large corporations as a more broad brush indictment of their dishonesty. He didn't write anything about many corporations are beyond reproach, I think it was the opposite? I don't like big corporate America anymore than I like big gov't. I suppose that George has the same feeling?

BTW: Mother Earth and communitarian economy are a couple of the pope's other favorite buzzwords. I think he's convincing me to abandon my Catholic faith and worship dirt.

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

“I have an above average level of information about personalities and historical figures in politics and economics but I've never heard of the experts that you are using.”

Thank you for helping to make my point about how far modern American conservatism has drifted from its roots and how the conservative movement has been captured by imposters. You are not alone. In fact, I suspect there is hardly anyone today, including or perhaps especially so-called conservatives, who have heard of Kirk. So, this from Wikipedia:

Russell Amos Kirk (October 19, 1918 in Plymouth, Michigan – April 29, 1994 in Mecosta, Michigan)[1] was an American political theorist, moralist, historian, social critic, literary critic, and fiction author known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. His 1953 book, The Conservative Mind, gave shape to the amorphous post-World War II conservative movement. It traced the development of conservative thought in the Anglo-American tradition, giving special importance to the ideas of Edmund Burke. Kirk was also considered the chief proponent of traditionalist conservatism.

And here is the link to the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Kirk

As you can see, Kirk held to several basic conservative principles. Also, he rejected free market libertarianism and he rejected neo-conservatism. He was opposed to the Gulf War and “Republican militarism.” In my book, he was a true conservative.

As for the Pope, have you considered that you may be looking at him (and the hammer and sickle crucifix) through your own prism instead of through his? Again, here is some key language from his speech (did you read all of it or only part?): “We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people…” As Kirk often pointed out, conservatism is not an ideology; indeed ideology is anathema to it.


George said...

"And the fact that Obama may have made mistakes does not absolve the previous administration, especially when they were the ones who opened Pandora’s Box in the first place."
>Whose absolving the previous administration for what it is responsible for? Not I. We are where we are now with a different president, who I believe has a moral obligation to come to the aid of Christians and others who are suffering in the Middle East as of right now.

"Again, it is a fallacy to suggest that just because some corporations might be supporting the kinds of matters you mention, then other corporations are beyond reproach and may not be challenged – for example, those engaged in factory farming practices, etc., etc."

>My point was while others can attack and criticize corporations for such things as factory farming practices, conservatives can likewise attack them for other reasons. By the way,the right to live of unborn human beings trumps animal rights.

It is interesting that you don't seem to have much of a favorable opinion of Dinesh d’Souza's views. At least, that is what I gather from your comment above. Mr d’Souza is a faithful and devoted Catholic who as far as anything I have read about him, does not in any way depart from any of the Church's teachings.

Anonymous 2 said...

I think I must have forgotten to post this:

Anon. Mike:

“I have an above average level of information about personalities and historical figures in politics and economics but I've never heard of the experts that you are using.”

Thank you for helping to make my point about how far modern American conservatism has drifted from its roots and how the conservative movement has been captured by imposters. You are not alone. In fact, I suspect there is hardly anyone today, including or perhaps especially so-called conservatives, who have heard of Kirk. So, this from Wikipedia:

Russell Amos Kirk (October 19, 1918 in Plymouth, Michigan – April 29, 1994 in Mecosta, Michigan)[1] was an American political theorist, moralist, historian, social critic, literary critic, and fiction author known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. His 1953 book, The Conservative Mind, gave shape to the amorphous post-World War II conservative movement. It traced the development of conservative thought in the Anglo-American tradition, giving special importance to the ideas of Edmund Burke. Kirk was also considered the chief proponent of traditionalist conservatism.

And here is the link to the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Kirk

As you can see, Kirk held to several basic conservative principles. Also, he rejected free market libertarianism and he rejected neo-conservatism. He was opposed to the Gulf War and “Republican militarism.” In my book, he was a true conservative.

As for the Pope, have you considered that you may be looking at him (and the hammer and sickle crucifix) through your own prism instead of through his? Again, here is some key language from his speech (did you read all of it or only part?): “We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people…” As Kirk often pointed out, conservatism is not an ideology; indeed ideology is anathema to it.


Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

On the “communitarian economy” which Pope said this in 2013? (clue; it wasn’t Francis):

“In order to emerge from the present financial and economic crisis – which has engendered ever greater inequalities – we need people, groups and institutions which will promote life by fostering human creativity, in order to draw from the crisis itself an opportunity for discernment and for a new economic model. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset, aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness. Yet, from another standpoint, true and lasting success is attained through the gift of ourselves, our intellectual abilities and our entrepreneurial skills, since a “liveable” or truly human economic development requires the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity and the logic of gift. Concretely, in economic activity, peacemakers are those who establish bonds of fairness and reciprocity with their colleagues, workers, clients and consumers. They engage in economic activity for the sake of the common good and they experience this commitment as something transcending their self-interest, for the benefit of present and future generations. Thus they work not only for themselves, but also to ensure for others a future and a dignified employment.”

As for “Mother Earth,” he may not have ever used that particular expression but Pope Benedict was known, for good reason, as “The Green Pope.”


Anonymous 2 said...

George:

I don’t think we really disagree about much here. However, I have been reacting to what seem to me to be unwarranted inferences about my positions. For example, when I cite the conservative Kirk’s proposition that conservatives should be wary of “those who fancy that foreign policy can be conducted with religious zeal on a basis of absolute rights and absolute wrongs” (which is, I submit, an accurate description of neo-conservative foreign policy under the Bush Administration) you say “I hope you are not one of those who hold that we are no better than say, Iran meddling in Syria and Lebanon or Russia meddling in the Ukraine.” What am I supposed to make of such a statement – that you think Kirk might be such a person or only that I may be such a person? Either way, as I pointed out, ascribing moral equivalence to the United States and to Iran and Russia does not follow from Kirk’s proposition.

Yes, there is a moral obligation to come to the aid of Christians and others who are suffering in the Middle East. But the question is: How do we best do that? Kirk would say we should exercise prudence or practical wisdom, and I agree. Another full scale invasion by the United States, as advocated by some (the usual suspects actually) is not necessarily the answer. For one, it may even make matters far worse. I don’t know that, of course, and I suggest that none of us does. It is a matter of judgment for those who are privy to all relevant information. The same is true regarding the deal with Iran. What I do know is that if we had left Saddam in place (as we should have), then we would not be having this conversation. He was a counterweight to Iran and treated Christians relatively well (Tariq Aziz, his foreign minister, was Roman Catholic). But no, we just had to go and meddle didn’t we. After all we needed to bring the Middle East freedom and democracy; and it was going to be a “cakewalk”! Result: now we are faced with a horrible situation that is much more complicated and difficult to manage (assuming it is manageable at all) than it ever needed to be. Kirk must be spinning in his grave.

I am glad we agree that corporations acting according to the logic of the free market do not get a free pass. We should both agree with Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict) then about the need to rein in their excesses and overweening emphasis on profit. Moreover, as you rightly point out, live unborn human beings trump animals. That is one reason Pope Francis is so canny. For if people cultivate the type of sensibility he is calling for, this must necessarily include the unborn. On his integral view of creation, it is not possible to care about the rainforest and suffering pigs and cows in factory farming (not to mention the exploited undocumented workers, at least in the U.S.) and then abort an unborn human being. Right now, many people on the left don’t seem to see an inconsistency. He wants to change that. So, I am very encouraged by the approach in his encyclical because it promises to reach well beyond the choir. As I have said before, reversing Roe v. Wade will not solve the problem. If we want abortions to reach zero, as I do, then much more is necessary. Hearts and minds must be changed, and they won’t be by screaming “baby murderer” at those who do not accept our premises.

As for Dinesh, well, what can I say? You assume that I don’t have a favorable opinion of him. Perhaps you should know, then, that in one of my courses I used to use one of his books (I no longer teach the course in that configuration, however) and I still use a chapter from another in another course. I think a lot of Dinesh, but this does not mean that I take everything he says as Gospel. Even in the material I use I point out where I think he overstates his case. And, so far at least, I suspect he overstates his case in “America.” But, as I said, I am only part of the way through it.

George said...

"What am I supposed to make of such a statement – that you think Kirk might be such a person or only that I may be such a person?"

> I said I hope that you are not. I want to make sure. There are many such as that who make the same arguments and have the same or similar positions as you and Mr Kirk.

"Another full scale invasion by the United States, as advocated by some (the usual suspects actually) is not necessarily the answer."

>That is not the answer. There need not be full scale invasion. There are so many other things that can be done. This includes much more humanitarian aid to the refugees.

"What I do know is that if we had left Saddam in place (as we should have), then we would not be having this conversation. He was a counterweight to Iran and treated Christians relatively well (Tariq Aziz, his foreign minister, was Roman Catholic)."

>The same could be said about Col Khaddafi, who our current President "took care of" thereby destabilizing the entire North Africa. We were lucky that the military took back control of Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood. By the way, did you know that there were over one-hundred thousand Christians residing in Libya under Mr Khaddafi? We know that after the downfall of the Libyan regime, all kinds of weapons found their way to other parts of the Middle East.

Anonymous 2 said...

Serendipitously I just heard an interview on NPR’s “Marketplace” this evening with the author of a new book “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America.” The author is Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Although I suspect I will not agree with everything he says, it seems to be a very refreshing and welcome contribution to the conversation. Here is the blurb:

“The prominent economist and president of the American Enterprise Institute—the leading intellectual think tank on the right—offers a bold new vision for conservatism as a movement for social and economic justice.

In The Conservative Heart, Arthur C. Brooks contends that after years of focusing on economic growth and traditional social values, it is time for a new kind of conservatism—one that helps the vulnerable without mortgaging our children’s future. In Brooks’ daring vision, this conservative movement fights poverty, promotes equal opportunity, celebrates earned success, and values spiritual enlightenment. It is an inclusive movement with a positive agenda to help people lead happier, more hopeful, and more satisfied lives.

One of the country’s leading scholars and policy thinkers, Brooks has considered these issues for decades. Drawing on years of research on the sources of happiness, he asserts that what people most need are four “institutions of meaning”—faith, family, community, and meaningful work. These are not only the foundations of personal wellbeing, but also the necessary means for building a better nation.

Combining reporting, original research, and case studies, and free of vituperative politics, The Conservative Heart is an intelligent and compelling manifesto for renewal. Clear, well-reasoned, and accessible, it is a welcome new strategy for disconsolate conservatives looking for fresh, actionable ideas to address the serious problems confronting us today and to reclaim our future, and for politically independent citizens who believe that neither political party addresses their needs or concerns.”

I have read the material in the “Look Inside” and will definitely be getting the book. Among other things, Brooks acknowledges the tremendous debt of conservatism to Russell Kirk and he also has entries in the index for Pope Francis. So he sounds like he knows what he is talking about. =)

Another good book, by another very thoughtful conservative, David Brooks (are they related, I wonder), is “The Road to Character.” It is highly commended by Father Kavanaugh and is also on my list. This Brooks also emphasizes human flourishing, and focuses on the development of “eulogy virtues” and not just “resume virtues.”

http://www.amazon.com/dp/081299325X/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=7005924114&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_z662402ke_e

I greatly appreciate the emphasis of both books on human flourishing and of the second book on virtues, both of which are central to my own professional work.

I thought readers who do not yet know about these two books might be interested in them. In addition to Father Kavanaugh, is anyone familiar with either of these books?



Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. I forgot the link for the first book:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062319752/#reader_0062319752

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Two thoughts about Libya because I am just not going to let the neocons off the hook:

(1) Causation – No Iraq, no Libya (or Egypt for that magtter);

(2) Comparison – they wanted to go even further than Obama and thought the U.S. should “lead from the front” not “lead from behind.”

So, any way you cut it, destabilization has to be laid primarily at their doorstep.

Anonymous said...

In Brooks’ daring vision, this conservative movement fights poverty, promotes equal opportunity, celebrates earned success, and values spiritual enlightenment. It is an inclusive movement with a positive agenda to help people lead happier, more hopeful, and more satisfied lives.

I like A. Brooks very much and have read many of his articles in the WSJ. The description of his book doesn't match our pope's vision. I'd encourage you to send him a copy before he brings his social justice tour to the USA. This description could have been written at anytime about almost any conservative policy book written the last 65 years. Conservatism has always stood for all these things - nothing new here. You're not suggesting based on this book that American conservatism is becoming similar to the pope's communitarian dreamland are you?

PS David Brooks is no conservative.



Mike

George said...

Anonymous

"Causation – No Iraq, no Libya (or Egypt for that matter);"

Not related. Just like with Saddam in Iraq, it was bad move to take out Col. Khadaffi.
In fact, unlike Mr Bush, Pres. Obama had the benefit of hindsight. Again, what happened in Egypt(the so-called "Arab spring") was US interventionism of a different sort. Thankfully, it failed in a good way.

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Well you might be right on the causation point. It is disputed. What cannot be disputed is that the neocons initially took credit for Libya and the “Arab Spring” more generally (it was due to the invasion of Iraq and Bush’s “freedom agenda” they said) until they got mugged by reality (again) and changed their tune, reverting to Obama attack mode. If you want references, I have them. Taking credit and denying them that credit was, I suppose, part of the usual politicking and one-upmanship that seems to be the standard fare in our corrupted politics. The most chilling aspect for me is that even though they have been mugged by reality (twice now) many of them still peddle the same failed approach and may influence Republican candidates for the 2016 election. Let’s not forget that their original agenda was to bring about regime change in Syria and Iran (presumably though further military action) after succeeding in Iraq.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

You may be correct that conservatives have always stood for these things. The problem is they have been their own worst enemy (Brooks’s sentiments not mine – read the Introduction in “Look Inside” in the Amazon link I gave). That is why he has written the book. For example, he explains that some of his fellow conservatives still refuse to regard economic issues as moral issues (see pp. 15-16), That they inevitably are is a lesson that I invariably have to I try to get across to many of my own students as well.

Why do you say David Brooks is not a conservative?

George said...

Anonymous2:

I have a different perspective on what has transpired in the Middle East under Mr Bush and then subsequently Mr Obama.There was a hope and expectation on the part of Mssrs. Bush and Mr Obama that what was accomplished in Eastern Europe under Mr. Reagan with the fall of the Iron Curtain and subsequent freedom of those peoples, could likewise be done in countries such as Iraq and Egypt. How much did it appear at the time that Tahrir Square seemed not unlike the streets of Prague during the Velvet revolution. Yet we know now that there was little similarity. There was a Foreign policy hubris and bravdo on the part of both Mr. Bush and Mr Obama that bore little semblance to what was the true reality of the situation in many of the countries of the Middle East. Lacking a true understanding of that reality, there was little hope of what they were trying to accomplish of succeeding.

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

“Lacking a true understanding of that reality, there was little hope of what they were trying to accomplish of succeeding.”

On this we agree.

Anonymous said...

Anon2
David Brooks is a New York Times columnist and a very unreliable guy when it comes to various positions. He's a justice Kennedy style conservative. I've seen him several times on PBS News Hour and other TV appearances and he's a moderate at best. Anymore, I pay little attention to what he says. I think I reflect the general attitudes of rednecks on this one.

What I've noticed more of in the Republican party is the desire to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. That's a position I detest. I could care less about pro-gay pro-abortion Republicans, as far as voting for them or giving them any support.

I wish the pope was delivering a clear minded critique of these kind of individuals and way of thinking. If that's what he's trying to do then he's missing the target by about 3 light years. If that's what you think he's doing I hope you're right but I think the preponderance of the evidence suggests something quite different.

What do you teach?

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

My teaching package has varied over 35 years of teaching.

Currently I teach courses in the areas of U.S. Immigration Law and Comparative Law (currently Islamic Law in Comparative Perspective, using a book written by a Catholic, Raj Bhala, which explores the classical Sharī‘a and compares it with American Law and Roman Catholicism), as well as courses in our Law School Externship program (which has a public interest and professionalism focus). In 2015-16 I expect to be returning to the area of International Trade Law once again after almost 20 years away from it. Until three years ago I also taught a course that integrated legal history, normative jurisprudence, and comparative law. Sometimes in that course one of the books I used was Russell Kirk’s “Roots of American Order.” I tell my students that I regard myself as much a student of the law as a professor of it, and the day I think I have nothing left to learn is the day I need to retire. On that basis I may never retire because every day, despite always learning more, I become more convicted of my own ignorance. That’s probably more than you want to know, but thanks for asking.

What is your own field?

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. The integrated course I taught until three years ago focused on legal and other relevant developments in Western Civilization – a kind of Western Civ. course for lawyers if you will. I miss that course!

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I'm an investment advisor. In 1985 I started out as a commercial banker working for a large Chicago bank. In 1999 I switched my discipline to investments when I was working for my third and last large banking organization and in 2003 I started my own practice. I enjoy what I do very much especially because it involves my two favorite areas of study, politics and economics.

Your current field is extraordinarily specialized. Hopefully you don't run into any conflicts when you intermingle religious thought with the law. Academic freedom and latitude is usually granted for everything but this.

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

As in many other professional fields the practice of law has become increasingly specialized as the world becomes more and more complex. For example, it is not possible to practice seriously in the area of immigration law or in the area of international trade without specializing. Even when I was practicing in the area of international trade in the late 70s, we specialized – in my case in European Community law or Common Market Law as it was known then. And when I consulted with an Atlanta immigration law firm in the late 80s and early 90s we specialized in Business Immigration Law (a specialty within a specialty if you will). Indeed, even “general practice” (to the extent it still exists) has become viewed as a specialty (compare family practice in medicine). There are benefits and costs to such specialization – greater and more honed expertise in the specialty versus loss of the big picture and the holistic sensibility, and the corollaries of those things. At my own Law School we try to give a good foundation for the practice of law in general (as opposed to the general practice of law) including a great emphasis on professionalism, as well as for the specialty in which a student is interested.

I have never experienced any conflicts from mingling religion and law. As indicated on another thread, I have experienced some negativity when teaching Humane Vitae (from non-Catholic female students). That is certainly understandable, the Catholic Church being such an outlier on contraception (but everyone finds it illuminating to compare the different schools’ Shari‘a rules on artificial conception, abortion, and homosexuality with each other and with Catholic doctrine). More generally, I make it clear that the law of every civilization is rooted in a religious worldview, even if those roots are now mainly historical in the West (more current in the U.S. of course). I also make it clear that even in the West the religious voice has a deserved and legitimate place in the public square, separation of Church and State notwithstanding. Several of my colleagues (I would say about half) are religious and include Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and a Mormon (my Muslim colleagues are elsewhere in the university although we do have some Muslim students). And one of my colleagues has done important nationally recognized work on integrating one’s religious faith into one’s work as a lawyer. We are a strongly independent minded bunch so any attempt to discourage our inquiries in the classroom and in print (within decent limits of course) would not be received kindly. Furthermore, it would be an abdication of our academic responsibility and a disservice to our students, who are training for a profession in which clear reasoning is at premium, if we were to pull back on cultivating critical thinking skills; and it would be a disservice to them as persons if we did not honor all aspects of their being including their religious faith.

(continued)

Anonymous 2 said...

My own experience of academia is not wide. I have been at Mercer University Law School for my entire teaching career and have had no great desire to move despite overtures (being of conservative disposition I greatly value mutual loyalty, something that sadly is disappearing rapidly as another victim of Schumpeter’s creative destruction; similarly, my father also worked for the same local government unit for his entire career), although I have collaborated with colleagues at other institutions of course as well as colleagues throughout my own university. (By the same token, I have been a member of the same parish for 35 years too, although I now attend Mass in another parish frequently, in significant part for physical reasons.) Acknowledging these limits on my information base, I do not recognize most of the negative characterizations of academia that appear on this Blog and elsewhere because they are not true to my own experience.

I imagine you have seen some major challenges in your own field, especially after the financial collapse in 2008/09. Unfortunately the world of finance and economics is a bit of a closed book to me (it is one of my many limitations). I have a minimally adequate lay person’s knowledge I suppose but beyond that one might say it is all Greek to me (or perhaps one shouldn’t say that nowadays =)).

Anonymous said...

Anon 2
I haven’t read the Southern Orders’ exchanges on academia. I guess that most people would say that it’s dominated by liberals and seems like you might object to that. My personal experience would lead me to accept the consensus view. If schools and universities in the South have a better balance that’s good to hear.

Not much has changed for me in the investments world, but I’m not a good indicator. I’m a one man shop and remain mostly unaffected by Dodd Frank etc., that came about because of the 08/09 crash. I think the industry is struggling with attracting young talent while at the same time it’s starting to see some “creative destruction” caused by more automation. Online advisors are showing some traction in gaining market share. The fee structures to me have always been a little rich so having some competition come in that force organizations to do more for their clients while charging less is a very good development. I agree with the lack of integrity in business. I think most businesses are their own worst enemies when it comes to public perception. Whether it’s health care, investments or the sleazy phone and cable companies I think that many business practices create rightful resentment from customers. However I have no doubt that the pope’s recent contributions to the problem are doing more harm in trying to solve the problem in a way that has any chance of improving things.

Mike

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon. Mike:

Thank you for your response.

I do not wish to give the incorrect impression. I do think academia is dominated by political liberals who invariably vote Democrat but liberals are not necessarily as bad as they are often made out to be (I am married to one although she is not an academic =)). For one thing, many of them are religious (although they would not accept the Church’s teaching on same sex marriage and contraception -- abortion is more complex I think). This said, one type of diversity we need more of is ideological diversity. I count among my close friends colleagues who vote Democrat and a couple who vote Republican as well as one or two who, like me, are independents and can go either way depending on our evaluation of the constellation of issues and the dynamics involved. I am tired of both parties and would dearly like the Republican Party to reinvent itself (or return to its older roots). Perhaps Brooks’ book will help point the way forward, at least domestically (Republican militarism foreign remains a big worry for me) I am picking up my copy later this afternoon.

As to the lack of integrity in business, a central interest of mine is professionalism, ethics, and virtue in all the professions. I know that Business Schools do have courses in Ethics. One hopes they would “take” more but perhaps the competitive pressures are often too great? (I have also encountered some very ethical businesspeople, however, as have we all; but no argument from me about abusive practices in cable, phone, and health care) Also, I am currently working with a Business School colleague in organizing an international trade conference in Atlanta in October. This year he will be teaching a new course on “The Moral Basis of Capitalism” (or something like that). I would like to audit if at all possible. It should be very interesting. Perhaps we can Skype Francis in. =)




Anonymous said...

Anon 2,

Don't forget that all military action taken in the 20th century originated from Democrats. As far as the muslim conflicts go, I believe those are hard to avoid. They are going to keep coming. We are in a war with them whether we like it or not. I don't think it's unfair at all to place lots of blame on Clinton's sloppiness and corrupt character that left a simmering pot for George W. Also, I recall after 9/11 it wasn't rednecks screaming for blood it was New York liberals seeing red who were furious and thirsting for revenge. I knew it was a mistake for Bush to go to Iraq because the left would abandon him and start complaining about the war effort long before the job would be complete. Easy for me to say that now, but that is what I truly thought at the time and that's what did occur.

I'm afraid that business ethics instruction is a weak replacement for sound religious foundation. Ethics will continue to decline as people turn their backs on religion. Hard to imagine that we can have business ethicists filling the character gap in a society that is largely atheistic and/or agnostic(which is where we are heading). After all where do they get their moral authority? They can't get it from a god they deny exists. I do recall reading that Pat Buchanan and Jack Kemp would argue about the power of market forces and Kemp was a devoted believer in the market being able to correct for bad human nature. Pat said; "You can't have a prosperous society and an immoral one." I agree with Pat. I like the topic for your conference very much. I do believe as rcg commented much earlier in this exchange that the moral basis for capitalism really is founded in the type of freedom that God grants to us. But we can't forget that He has a perfect justice system that delivers severe punishment. Humans need the same in an economy. I wish you much success with the conference. Funny thing is, I don't think you can leave our pope off the agenda given your subject matter, which would make him at least a 400lb gorilla in the room.

Mike